Tablets

Toshiba Excite 10 teardown reveals pure tablet hardware and design

Bill Detwiler cracked open the Excite 10 and found the hardware and internal design of a true tablet, unlike the very laptop-like Toshiba Thrive.

The Thrive, Toshiba's first Android tablet, was a very laptop-like tablet. It had a user-replaceable battery, full-size HDMI and USB ports, and SD card slot. The Thrive's design made it easy to work on (to many IT pros), but it also made the device larger and heavier than other tablets.

The company's new Excite tablets are anything but bulky. At 0.35-inches thick and weighing just over 1.3 pounds, the Excite 10 is a razor blade compared to the Thrive. And, it has a quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and a full-sized SD card slot. How did Toshiba pack better hardware into a tablet that's almost half as thick? In this week's cracking open episode, I show you.

Our Excite 10 test machine (Model: AT305-T16) had a 1.2GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of DDR3 SDRAM, 16GB of on-board storage (expandable to 128GB), a 10.1" IPS LCD (1280 x 800 resolution), 802.11 b/g/n WLAN and Bluetooth, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. It measures 7.0" (H) x 10.3" (W) x 0.35" (D) and weighs 1.3 pounds.

Full teardown gallery: Cracking Open the Toshiba Excite 10

Cracking Open observations

  • Pop-off back cover: Luckily, the Excite 10 isn't much more difficult to crack open than the Thrive. Using a combination of metal and plastic tools, I popped the back cover away from the front panel assembly and lifted it off--disconnecting the speaker cable in the process.
  • Replaceable, but not user-replaceable battery: The Excite's battery isn't user-replaceable, as was the Thrive's power pack. This eliminates the need for a user-accessible battery compartment, which helps reduce the device's thickness. The Excite's flexible battery is also thinner than the Thrive's hard-shell unit.
  • No internal frame: With the exception of the speakers, all the Excite's internal hardware is mounted to the front panel assembly. Much of the Thrive's hardware was mounted to a separate, and rather thick, internal frame. In fact, nearly all the Excite's internal, plastic structures are thinner than the Thrive's.
  • Fused display and front panel: The Excite's LCD display and front panel (digitizer) are permanently joined. This makes it impossible to replace one without replacing the other. But, it eliminates the need for the large mounting plate that held the Thrive's display in place.

Bottom Line

Compared to the Thrive, the Excite's overall hardware layout and internal design is more like a tablet and less like a laptop. Gone is the separate Wi-Fi card. Gone is the removable storage chip. And, gone are the full-size HDMI and USB ports. But what you lose in full-size ports and replaceable components, you gain in a thinner, lighter tablet.

Read Erik Franklin's CNET review of the Toshiba Excite 10 for more information on the tablet's software features, real-world performance, and battery life test results.

Internal hardware

Our Excite 10 test unit has the following hardware:

  • 1.2GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor (1152A3 KT NAU315.01P T30SL-P-A3)
  • 10.1" IPS LCD (1280 x 800)
  • 16 GB Toshiba THGBM2G7D4FBAI9 eMMC storage chip (THGBM2G7D4FBAI9 FR5429 TAIWAN 11249AE)
  • 1 GB Hynix DDR3 SDRAM (H5TC2G83CFR)
  • 3.7V, 6,600 mAh/25 Wh Li-ion battery (Model: PA5053U-1BRS)
  • 5 MP rear camera
  • 2 MP front camera
  • SD card slot
  • Goodix GT8110 10-point capacitive touchscreen controllers (GT8110 12075A C)
  • Goodix GTM802 (GTM802 G2 152AD 21428049 -20 ARM)
  • National Semiconductor (Texas Instruments) VT22ACE4 90C187LF
  • AzureWave AW-NH660 wireless module
  • Parade PS8122 1:2 HDMI/DVI Demultiplexer
  • Wolfson WM8903 Ultra low power CODEC for portable audio applications (WM8903L 22AMBUC)
  • Fortemedia FM34-395 Low Power Voice Processor (FM34NE 395 B34DB)
  • Texas Instruments TPS61030  Efficient Synchronous Boost Converter With 4A Switch (TPS61030 TI 22W Z90P)
  • Texas Instruments TPS6592 PMIC (TPS659II04AA2 21AC9XW GI)
  • Nuvoton M0516 ARM Cortex -M0 32-bit microcontroller (M0516LBN ARM 2205B007-ZN2 209ABFA)
  • Invensense MPU-3050 Triple Axis Gyroscope with Embedded Digital Motion Processor (MPU-3050 Q4P673-J4 EI 1145 K)
  • Intersil ISL9519 Narrow VDC Regulator/Charger with SMBus Interface (9519HRTZ F120VS)
  • Broadcom BCM4751 Integrated Monolithic GPS Receiver (BCM47511IUB6 UD1210 P10 190S40 SN)

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

24 comments
Sohodt
Sohodt

Don't buy the Excite. Mine didn't last a year before it decided not to take a charge. It only works while it's plugged into the charger rendering it useless for my purposes. What a complete ripoff! If anyone has any suggestions to my problem contact me at acewilliamscomedy@gmail.com

wrex
wrex

I LOVE my Thrive 16! Full size USB, HDMI, mini, etc. I would not trade even for the Excite. The heavy/bukiness doesn't bother me in the least! It's like everything else. . . A new model comes out & half the things you loved in the old model are gone. It's like XP then Vista.

monophysite
monophysite

I think that there should be a report on how each one survives being dropped. Also, thin is in, but I want to be able to replace a battery. Please include info on battery longevity plus the cost of battery replacement/power pack replacement in each device. This, also, would be important information when shopping.

Kevin Robinson
Kevin Robinson

When I purchased my Thrive, there were lots of "thinner, lighter" tablets on display at the store to play with & compare. Tho' heavier, I appreciate the Thrive's (TT) rugged backside, ez in & out with the batteries (I now have 2...very handy and convenient). The HDMI port is a synch to use, and of course the full- & mini-sized USB ports are very handy. I'm very pleased with the TT and would recommend it, and I would buy it again - even if given a choice over the new Excite.

BrianMWatson
BrianMWatson

Hi Bill, I bought the Thrive - mostly because of the discounted price - and have fallen in love with it. I also have an iPad, which I have been very happy with, and therefore didn't expect to like the Thrive as much as I did. One of the things I like the most, is the full size USB port. It has added a level of utility and convenience that I no longer want to be without. This makes me wonder if they are made for different customers. I certainly hope so, because when it becomes time for a new tablet, I'll be looking for one with a full size USB port!

afterhoursman
afterhoursman

I prefer flexibiltiy and durability above sleekness. It is about getting the work done and not about looking good.

crudup
crudup

You have it listed as an IPS display. I have also seen it listed as a TFT display. The disassembly confirms it as an IPS display?

crudup
crudup

I know that it is not designed to have the back metal cover come on and off, but with it removed can the battery be removed and the cover reglued or sticky taped in? How is the back metal cover bonded to the unit now?

crudup
crudup

It looks as though if the metal back can be removed and it would not be necessary to disassemble the unit to replace the battery. The cut outs look like that is what they intended. Is the back metal cover removable and replaceable to replace the battery?

mlumer
mlumer

"Gone is the separate Wi-Fi card. Gone is the removable storage chip. And, gone are the full-size HDMI and USB ports. But what you lose in full-size ports and replaceable components, you gain in a thinner, lighter tablet." Which is exactly why I wanted the Thrive. I don't understand this eternal quest for thinner & lighter. Are our tablets experiencing the same body dysmorphic disorders so many young women deal with? Leave the extra ports in, I can handle the weight!

tsschall
tsschall

I agree with dltorres and enderby - Toshiba had a fine product in THrive. Personally I think it would have been wise to market Thrive as a solution to the bulk of a laptop and the shortcomings of a tablet. Flexibility is a great sales point.

RockerGeek!
RockerGeek!

I'd still do my own battery replacing (if needed)...mostly b/c I like to take things apart and put them back together ;) I do, however, also agree with dltorres. It's kind of funny, b/c phone are getting bigger, and tablets smaller. One thing that really turned me on to the Thrive was its selection of ports, not it's svelte (or lack thereof) design.

enderby!
enderby!

dltorres is so right. the Thrive was an exciting idea and great answer to the throw away mentality of the leading tablet maker. Flexibility and durability would be really nice alternatives to smaller.

dltorres
dltorres

It's not like we're asked to carry that much weight. Less expansive flexibility (the ability to diversify usage) for the sake of lighter weight and perhaps lesser size. I'll go for flexibility. Sleek is not always better.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

The number of buyers who want thin/light tablets is so much larger than those who care about full-sized ports, that Toshiba can't ignore it. I loved the Thrive's utility and ease-of-disassembly, but most tablet consumers don't care about either of those--15.4 million iPads in Q4 2012 doesn't lie.

ayahdikjah
ayahdikjah

will go the way of 4:3 UXGA display in laptop. Thinner and lighter, I'm afraid, will beat utilitarian / functionality.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

In-Plane Switching (IPS) is a type of thin-film transistor (TFT) LCD. IPS displays, differ from the older twisted nematic (TN) LCDs, in that the molecules of the liquid crystal are aligned parallel to the panel plane (substrate) and electrodes are placed differently.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

There is no adhesive holding the back cover to the front panel assembly, just the assembly's plastic tabs.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

You can remove the back cover, replace the battery, and then reattach the back cover. It's a relatively simple process (for those comfortable working on gadgets), but the battery wasn't designed to be "user-replaceable" as it is on the Thrive.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Tech vendors (and consumers) have traded the ability to repair/upgrade their hardware for more frequent releases, greater portability, and lower initial cost. Why upgrade your tablet when you can buy a new one every 2-3 years? Why repair your phone when the carrier/vendor will replace it--so long as you buy their insurance plan? The consumers desire for disposable technology isn't a new phenomenon (think razors and razor blades), but trends in consumer tech have accelerated its acceptance and made it more widespread. Unfortunately, the disposable tech mentality can have significant downsides--improperly disposed of e-waste harms our living spaces, consumer may end up paying more over their lifetime, and the model may not be sustainable as raw materials become more scarce.

triffid_98
triffid_98

I somewhat agree, but with a few caveats. What is the intended market for these tablets? Flexibility is great but I just don't see tablet owners upgrading ram and installing new wifi cards...but I'm also not a tablet owner, and I've never really understood why they were popular in the first place. ...It's slightly smaller than a net-book, costs about the same and does a whole lot less...but it's got a picture of fruit on one side.

crudup
crudup

What I mean is the back cover is plastic. Attached to the plastic back cover is the aluminum cover with TOSHIBA on it. Is it removeable and can the battery be replaced through it? The cut outs in the plastic part of the back cover seem to allow the battery to come out if the aluminum part on the plastic back cover is removed.

Editor's Picks